Driver shortage ‘likely to worsen’

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Monday 16 October 2017

The transport industry is failing to retain the relatively small number of young people that it recruits to truck-driving, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has admitted.

Addressing the FTA’s transport managers’ conference in Sparkford, Somerset, Sally Gilson (pictured), the organisation’s head of skills campaigning, said it was estimated that the industry was 35,000 drivers short at present, but this figure could rise to 52,000.

“The worrying thing is that this isn’t, as many might think, EU-national drivers leaving because of Brexit, but young people leaving the industry shortly after doing their training,” she asserted.

Pressed by Transport Operator as to the reason for this leakage of young talent, she said that while there was no hard data, the anecdotal evidence was that issues included long hours, low wages and poor conditions.

Post-Brexit, the situation was likely to worsen because 43,000 truck drivers currently working for British operators were citizens of other EU nations. This was some 13 per cent of the UK’s truck-driving workforce.

Equally worrying for logistics companies was the 26 per cent of warehouse workers who were from other EU nations.

She urged operators to take advantage of the apprenticeship scheme that they could offer to trainee truck drivers, pointing out that it was open to all ages and apprenticeships were no longer just for school leavers.

“The average age of people taking the LGV driving test is 35,” she said.

Operators should also approach job centres: if there had been local large-scale redundancies they might be able to fund driver training for the right candidates.

Career Transition Partnerships were a valuable source of ex-services personnel, who often left the forces with an LGV driving entitlement. They were excellent potential employees but would usually require extra training before operating in a commercial environment, she cautioned.

FTA was also working with schools in its Think Logistics campaign, which she urged operators to participate in.

“Logistics isn’t currently on the radar for pupils or careers staff at many schools,” she said.